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Ethics GS 4 2023– Case Study 4

Q10. Vinod is an honest and sincere IAS officer. Recently, he has taken over as Managing Director of the State Road Transport Corporation, his sixth transfer in the past three years. His peers acknowledge his vast knowledge, affability and uprightness. The Chairman of the State Road Transport Corporation is a powerful politician and is very close to the Chief Minister. Vinod comes to know about many alleged irregularities of the Corporation and the high-handedness of the Chairman in financial matters. A Board Member of the Corparation belonging to the Opposition Party meets Vinod and hands over a few documents along with a video recording in which the Chairman appears to be demanding bribe for placing a huge order for the supply of QMR tyres. Vinod recollects the Chairman expediting clearing of pending bills of QMR tyres.

Vinod confronts the Board Member as to why he is shying away from exposing the Chairman with the so-called solid proof he has with him. The member informs him that the Chairman refuses to yield to his threats. He adds that Vinod may earn recognition and publie support if he himself exposes tie Chairman. Further, he tells Vinod that once his party comes to pover, Vinod’s professional growth would be assured. Vinod is aware that he may be penalized if he exposes the Chairman and may further be transferred to a distant place. He knows that the Opposition Party stands a better chance of coming to power in the forthcoming elections.

However, he also realizes that the Board Member is trying to use him for his own political gains.

(a) As a conscientious civil servant, evaluate the options available to Vinod.

(b) In the light of the above case, comment upon the ethical issues that may arise due to the politicization of bureaucracy.

20 Marks (Answer in 250 words)


  • (a) Mention the options available for Vinod and Evaluate those options
  • (b) Identify and comment on the ethical issues that arise due to politicisation of bureaucracy in the context of the given/current case.

(a)Take note of the keyword – ‘Conscientious – It means wishing to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly–That means we should mention the options available to Vinod considering that he is an honest and diligent civil servant. 

In this case, options available to Vinod include-

Option (1) : Expose/Take action against the Chairman based on the video recording provided by the Board Member.

  • Pros:
      • It might be in the best interests of the Corporation if the corruption gets proved.
      • When the new political party gets into power, he might be favoured even though he does not seek it.
  • Cons:
    • It might be a hasty decision as it appears that the Chairman is involved in bribery- but cannot be ascertained without solid evidence.
    • It might appear that Vinod is favouring the opposition Party.
    • He might get a transfer  immediately.

Option (2) :  Refuse to intervene in the situation and ask the Board member to expose the video himself. 

  • Pros:
      • It saves him to get into the political rivalry so that he can focus genuinely on the development of the corporation.
      • No immediate transfer.
  • Cons:
    • It shows incompetence of Vinod to deal with a complex situation–as he is escaping from his duty of  taking notice of the issue which is against the best interest of the corporation.
    • Opposition party, when it comes to power, might punish him with the transfer.
    • He might seem to be favouring or fearing the ruling party.

Option(3) : Inform the superiors about the situation (like Secretary-General Administration) and act accordingly as the Chairman is a political leader .

  • Pros: 
      • As the political leader is involved in this, this option might provide him with more  practical solutions and might save the face of the corporation.
      • Vinods’s reputation among the bureaucracy stays intact.
  • Cons:
    • Again shows the incompetence of Vinod to deal with complex situations.
    • The solution from the superior might have to be followed even if it is against the best interests of the Corporation.

Option (4): Open a detailed investigation to verify the authenticity of  the video recording and collect the evidence necessary for the same; then expose/action against  the Chairman as per the rules of the corporation.

  • Pros:
      • This is in accordance with the civil service values of neutrality and impartiality.
      • Collecting evidence and taking the action accordingly is in the best interest of the Corporation.
      • Public trust as every action is based on evidence.
  • Cons:
    • Still Vinod might be seen as favouring the opposition party.
    • Transfer from Corporation.
    • Corporation will be losing an honest civil servant like Vinod.

Best Option: Option (4) seems the best option as whatever allegation comes, it’s the duty of a civil servant to go into the details and investigate the facts associated , as this is with respect to corruption in the corporation. It’s true that he might get punished by the transfer, but going by the record of Vinod, transfers are not new to him. He will be happy that his values and conscience remain sacrosanct as he acted in the best interest of the Corporation and Public.

(b) The politicisation of bureaucracy refers to the situation in which the bureaucracy is influenced by political considerations and is used to serve the interests of the ruling party or the political leadership. Politicisation of bureaucracy undermines the ethical principles of objectivity, neutrality and impartiality that are supposed to guide the work of the bureaucracy, and it can lead to corruption, inefficiency, and lack of accountability.

Ethical Issues that might arise due to this include-

  • Corruption (Objectivity/Impartiality): The Bureaucrats who are appointed based on political considerations often use their positions to enrich themselves or to serve the interests of their political masters. This has eroded public trust in the bureaucracy and has made it difficult for the government to implement policies.
    • If Vinod takes action based only on the  promises of the  Board member for his growth , it amounts to corruption and is against the principle of neutrality.
  • Inefficiency:. Bureaucrats who are appointed based on political considerations may lack the necessary skills and qualifications to perform their duties effectively. This can lead to delays, cost overruns, and poor implementation of policies and programs.
    • Vinod might get entangled in the political fight between the Chairman and the Board member even if he takes action against the Chairman in the best interests of the Corporation. This prevents Vinod from focusing on the other developmental  works of the corporation.
  • Lack of continuity: The frequent transfer and posting of bureaucrats, which is often used as a tool to reward or punish bureaucrats based on their political allegiance, undermines the continuity of policies and programs. This can lead to a lack of coherence in policy-making and implementation, which can negatively impact the development of the country.
    • Whatever action Vinod takes , there is a threat of transfer for him from the rival party.
  • Lack of innovation: Bureaucrats who are focused on serving the interests of their political masters may be hesitant to take risks or to innovate. This can lead to a lack of creativity and innovation in policy-making and implementation.
    • Whatever action Vinod takes, there is a chance that his initiatives will be opposed by the members of the corporation who are supporters of the losing party. This might prevent Vinod from introducing any new initiatives.
  • Lack of trust: When citizens perceive that bureaucrats are appointed based on political considerations and are not working in their best interests, they may become disengaged from the democratic process. This can lead to a lack of trust in government institutions and can negatively impact the development of the country.
    • When Vinod gets stuck in this political rivalry despite his neutrality, the members of the corporation and the public might perceive him to be associated with one of the parties who gains due to his actions.

The politicisation of bureaucracy in India has far-reaching implications for the development of the country. By strengthening the selection process, ensuring accountability, decentralising power, and strengthening civil society, it is possible to reduce the politicisation of bureaucracy in India and to build a more efficient, accountable, and effective system of governance.


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